Students flood bathrooms, as bathrooms flood students

Editorial Board

At about 10:45 A.M. on Dec. 9, administration alerted students and staff over the loudspeakers that Schreiber’s water system was down, leaving the school’s bathrooms out of commission.  Less than an hour later, a second announcement was made, requesting patience and not to panic.  During fourth period, a third statement explained the situation further and a course of action was provided: Weber’s all-purpose room bathrooms would be avaibable for Schreiber students, to be  escorted by staff members, to use.

According to New York State’s Department of Education, “sanitary facilities… [must be] available to building occupants at all times of occupancy.”  Furthermore, policy “specifically requires accessories and supplies [to] be provided” and bathrooms “must be maintained in working order and [must be] open for use.”

By law, the fact that there were no working bathrooms should have shut down the high school building and  sent students home early.  Busing for students with working parents or no alternative rides could have been addressed throughout the day, and it was clear, due to the lack of action, that this option was not truly explored.  Immediately after the problem, with no obvious solution, the principals and others in administration should have planned for an early dismissal.

Aside from the illegalities of Dr. Pernick and the administration’s decision, Weber was not capable of handling this influx of Schreiber students in desperate need of a bathroom.  The facilities could not support the twisting, curving line of students waiting to use the facilities and this situation was most certainly not Covid safe.

The line, which wrapped around the outside of the building, not only posed a health risk, but also resulted in an uncomfortable circumstance for students, waiting in mid 30 degree Fahrenheit weather.  In addition, students were returning back to class after at least 40 minutes, which disrupted the entire learning process.  If school occupants were missing the majority of a period, why was the student body even permitted to remain in the building?

Furthermore, the lack of running water sets off a host of other concerns, which should have come to mind earlier in the day.  Will the in-school sprinklers work in the event of a fire?  Will the nursing office have access to water in the case of an emergency?  How will students wash their hands, which is urged heavily as part of pandemic policy?

Although, with only a half hour remaining in the day, ground and first floor bathroom access re-opened, students should not have been forced to learn with the distraction of locked, unusable toilet facilities.  This situation should not have devolved into the spiraling mess of long lines and missed class time, and the administration needs to be more forward-thinking in the future and prioritize issues concerning the law and student well-being.